Waste Free Summer Feasts


Eating outdoors is a great way to enjoy Toronto's green spaces, but with picnics often comes plastic forks, disposable cups and napkins.

How can we make sure that our time enjoying nature isn't harming the environment?

The good news is that there are plenty of simple ways to have a waste-free feast this summer!

Reduce: Avoid waste and disposables in the first place: choose reusable dishes and cups for your outdoor feast. Lightweight plastic dishes are easy to find and can be used again and again. You can find vintage picnic sets or just simple dishes at your local second-hand store! If you're having a potluck, ask each person to bring their own dishes along with the food they bring.

Reuse: Forget the bottled water and carry refillable water bottles to fill up at City drinking fountains.

Recycle: If you find yourself with disposable plastic or styrofoam dishes, cups or cutlery in your hand, you'll be happy to know they can be recycled in Toronto's Blue Bins at home or in local parks. Remember to wipe the food residue off first, to reduce contamination.

Paper plates can be recycled, but if they've got food or grease on them, bring them home for the green bin.

Compost: When the feast is done, remember food scraps can be composted - carry home the organic food waste, napkins and paper plates for your green bin or home composter.

Together we can create a waste free future of summer picnics and beautiful litter-free City parks!

Share your waste free picnic story on TEA's Waste Free Challenge #5 - Choose to Re-use - you'll be on your way to great prizes!  

Happy picnic-ing!


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  • Dawn Lyons
    commented 2014-05-26 10:17:42 -0400
    This is really excellent, and an area I am not so good on. After reading this, I went out to the yard sales that are happening this lovely Saturday in May, and purchased some plastic dishes (bowls, plates, cups and glasses) esp for picnics and other “away” meals. I mostly have reg pottery/glass/yada eating stuff, but they are breakable in backpacks on bikes (ask me how I know this…). However! the 4 nice orange bowls and the ‘glasses’ I got are charming acrylics, the owners were clearing them b/c they weren’t microwaveable (not a prob at most picnics) and ideal for salads and soups.

    Reminds me of the time we went to a banquet at a Friends of the Voyageurs (a group of fur-trade reenactors) meet-up and banquet up on Kempenfelt Bay. The banquet was BYOS (bring your own spoon). People carved wooden spoons, a nice pastime around the campfire, and made extras as gifts. After dinner there was Spoon Dancing, in which you would offer the person you were sweet on a spoon you’d made — good times! :)